I watched the comedienne Wanda Sykes' remarks at the White House Correspondent's Dinner on You Tube. Commenting on Cheney, she said, in paraphrase, 'Cheney talks about all the valuable information the torture produced. It's just as if I were to rob a bank and then tell the judge, yes I did rob the bank, but look at all the bills I payed with the money.'
This is exactly right. The reason we don't torture is not or shouldn't be that it doesn't yield reliable information, or that it protects our own captive soldiers in the future, whether or not these things are in fact true. Cheney's claim that the former is false, even if it were so, is irrelevant. The logic of our moral reasoning is not a consequentialist logic. Obama has spelled out this non-consequentialist logic explicitly. The reason not to torture, he has said, is that it corrupts our character.
Unquestionably Obama is correct in noting the immorality of torture. If we lived in a society wherein immorality would be sufficient grounds to prevent any form of behavior we could then rely on the non-consequentialist argument. We don't. In any event morality is debatable. Some hold certain forms of sexuality to be immoral. Must we all live by their morality? The inhumanity of torture may be a better leg to stand on, but even that is better buttressed by the unacceptable consequences of the use of torture and the inadequacy of the results of torture. It is wrong by all standards of human decency and it is not only ineffective, but also defective. Reference to morality leaves too much room for argument.
What morality do you suggest that Cheney and his cohorts along with a goodly portion of our fellow Americans adhere to?
Some second thoughts on what I've said, above. These arguments were made long before this decade. Whether it had been based on the immorality of torture, or the inhumanity of torture or the ineffective and defective results of torture, it was long ago decided in this country and in most of the civilized world that torture is illegal. What was done in Abu Ghraib and Quantanamo was a series of criminal acts under the guise of interrogation. Whether those actions were immoral or ineffective is no longer the relevant issue. They were criminal
according to our own laws. No series of memos reinterpreting our laws can serve as a defense for having broken those laws.
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